With almost two weeks of Training Camp in the books, I figured it’s time to give my takeaways and updates on the Buffalo Bills. This roster is about as deep as any Buffalo Bills roster in my lifetime. That depth has fostered an environment that welcomes healthy competition and competition tends to bring the best out of athletes.
Buffalo Bills Injury Updates
To start off training camp, the Buffalo Bills had some early injuries. Jerry Hughes failed his physical when he showed up to camp because of a calf strain. He should be fine for the start of the season, but will certainly take some time to get back into football shape. Despite his veteran status, preseason snaps will be uniquely valuable to him purely because he has to get into playing shape.
Jacob Hollister suffered a back injury early in camp and has missed multiple days because of it. However, the initial timetable was “day-to-day” and he already returned to practice yesterday (8/5). So he did not lose too much time, but he will likely need extra work to learn the playbook quickly.
Emmanuel Sanders suffered a mild foot injury that took him out of some 11-on-11 reps, but nothing too serious. It shouldn’t impact him for the regular season. However, at his age, it is something to be mindful of and monitor as the regular season approaches.
Lastly, both Ike Boettger and Dion Dawkins were placed on the Covid Reserve List almost immediately once training camp started. Boettger was not participating but was spotted on the field in recent days. Dawkins on the other hand will take a little bit more time to get back to football activity. At this point, there isn’t much more concern in regards to Dawkins being ready for week one. However, everyone responds to the virus differently. Bottom line is that we wish him a speedy recovery.
Josh Allen Updates
As per usual, Buffalo Bills QB1 looks great in shorts. I’m not exactly sure why I’m obligated to say this, but I am. In all seriousness, Josh Allen appears to be starting this season right where he left off from last season.
He has been sharp and has elevated the play of his teammates. For the most part, defenses typically perform better during the early days of training camp. The theory derives from the idea that the offense needs time to gel while the defense just gets after it and disrupts the offense. However, it has been pretty balanced for the Buffalo Bills so far and Allen is responsible for a lot of that.
He has had some bad moments, but so far he hasn’t had a particularly bad day. Merely the fact that we don’t have to question his mediocre performances as if he can’t bounce back is a very reassuring feeling.
Buffalo Bills CB2 Battle
Many of us are aware of the camp battle taking place for CB2 between Levi Wallace and Dane Jackson. Plenty of people are ready to move on from the mundane play from Wallace and are ready to test out the young guy. Wallace may not be the best Cornerback in the league, but he is not a bad CB2. As long as he isn’t a constant liability in coverage, this coaching staff will continue to trust him. Thus far in his career as Buffalo Bill, he has been hovering at or above the bar of the coach’s expectations.
Jackson provides a bit more aggression and physicality that Wallace does not. It’s not that Wallace can’t be physical, it’s more that it comes as an organic part of Jackson’s game. Although he didn’t have many snaps in 2020, he flashed in his limited opportunities. So far in training camp, Jackson has been a bit underwhelming. He hasn’t been bad, but he also hasn’t been meeting the level of praise he received from players, coaches, and even Brandon Beane this offseason. As of right now, the CB2 position is Levi Wallace’s job to lose.
Dawson Knox Struggles
We are all familiar with the enigma that is Dawson Knox. He has an incredible amount of athleticism and potential, but can’t quite piece it all together on the field.
The main issue with Knox has been his inconsistency when it comes to catching the football. He is unbelievably difficult to tackle once he gets the ball in his hands, but he struggles to actually get the ball in his hands. It seems like he’ll make the tough catches, but then drop the easy ones. If he can figure out his confidence and hand-eye coordination, the sky is the limit for him as a Tight End.
According to recent reports, Knox has continued to struggle with the drops during training camp despite all the work he put in this offseason to improve. The Tight End position is one that takes time to develop. However, it’s time to start seeing tangible improvements to his game this season.
Jake Kumerow Continues to Shine
All the buzz from Buffalo Bills training camp so far has been centered around Wide Receiver Jake Kumerow. Some of that buzz derived from positive comments Aaron Rodgers made about him. The rest of the buzz stems from Kumerow’s performances through the first two weeks.
The most recent report is that he beat Tre’Davious White multiple times in one-on-ones. However, to further contextualize the reps, it was also reported that White had great coverage on these plays, but were simply great throws by Allen and of course a good job by Kumerow to win positioning and ultimately catch the ball.
Day by day it’s looking even more likely that Kumerow will wind up on the final roster with the offensive performances he’s putting together on top of his already known special teams ability. With that being said, there’s a lot of time until the final cutdown day and I’m sure people like Isaiah Hodgins won’t go away too easily. A lot can change considering zero out of the three preseason games have been played yet.
Isaiah McKenzie Stands Out
Last but not least is the “Face of the Franchise” Isaiah McKenzie. By all reports, McKenzie has had an outstanding training camp so far. We have become accustomed to him as just a gadget weapon in the Brain Daboll offense. However, it has been reported that this is the best McKenzie has looked as a Receiver during his time in Buffalo. Not just in gimmicky plays like jet sweeps and end arounds, but also conventional route running out of the slot.
Additionally, Heath Farwell has come out to say that McKenzie is the front-runner for the return specialist gig. I assumed the team drafted Marquez Stevenson to compete with McKenzie for the return gig. It’s both encouraging and discouraging to see McKenzie as the front-runner right now. It means McKenzie is improving and developing well as an overall player. However, it could mean that Stevenson will just be stashed on the Practice Squad.
With all this being said, it’s very early in the pre-season. There are three games left to be played and a lot can change between now and the end of the month. In my opinion, pre-season game performances hold more weight than performances against teammates in training camp.
Air Raid Hour
On this episode of the Air Raid Hour, Judge and Tilt share their thoughts on the latest developments from Buffalo Bills training camp. If you liked the updates I touched on in this article, then you will definitely enjoy this episode of the Air Raid Hour. We dove deep into the Dawson Knox chronicles, Isaiah McKenzie, Jake Kumerow, and much more. If you missed the Air Raid Hour live, you can catch the replay linked and embedded above.
As always, go Bills!